I decided to share this w/you all because you understand my passion about this election! J
by Tiesha Henderson
I expected to feel something.
In 2004 I voted in my first presidential election. It was all about voting AGAINST George Bush. I wasn’t excited about John Kerry. So for me, this was like the first time ever voting. On the bus over to the Records Building I saw a huge truck & the back window was spray painted in huge white letters that said “NOBAMA.” Initially my jaw dropped, but quickly I regained my desire to get to the polls as soon as possible.
And I felt all of those things as I touched the little electronic screen at the polling place. Joy that Barack Obama’s name was the first on the ballot. Excitement that I get to vote for him. Relief that I made it on the last day of early voting. Hope that maybe, just maybe, Sam Cooke’s irreverent “change” has finally come. That maybe, one day, Texas will not be a red state.
What I was not prepared for was the flood of emotions that came after.
So many people want to reduce my vote for Barack to “a black thing” that I tried my damnedest to relegate his race to the role of the “cherry on top” of my support for an intelligent, inspirational, highly capable candidate who shared my political beliefs.
But today, the weight of this moment came down on me before I realized it. I think I may have felt a little something like it when I became the first person in my family to earn a college degree. But nothing can match the emotion I felt when I realized that I have lived to see a day that none of my ancestors did. None of my parents or my grandparents or great-grands lived to see the day a man of color’s name was on the presidential ballot.
It made me think about March of this year when I was going so hard for Obama in the primaries and my dad missed the opportunity to vote for him. I said, “Oh well, you’ll get your chance in November, because surely his name will be on the ballot.” I could not have imagined then that he would not live to see November.
As I was typing this, I just thought about how when he was in the hospital and we asked him who the president was to see if his confusion had worn off and he said “Obama.” At the time we laughed and said “Hopefully he will be!”
People have told us from the time we were very young that we are “the hope and the dream of the slave.” It’s become empty rhetoric. Today I felt that deeply within me. And finally… relief from the nightmare that I may never change the world. That one little thing I did will make a difference.
Even with the misty eyes and overflowing emotion, today, I felt powerful.